Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Time Travel

When my babies were tiny, I used to spend hours gazing at their slumbering faces. Little nostrils flaring, breath setting a hypnotic beat, eyes twitching in dreamland, itty bitty fingers swatting away invisible itches on a scrunched up nose. Their little faces contorted this way and that. Their gaze so fixed on me upon waking. In their faces I would imagine them as toddlers, boys, grown men. It was an involuntary slideshow running before my eyes.

In a flash I would catch a glimpse of them as their older selves.

Now that my boys, my babies, are teetering on the cusp of six and four, I see time reeling backwards and forwards in a cruel teasing tango. In a random giggle I see them as their infant selves. Perhaps it’s in a pensive moment while chilling out in the back seat. Perhaps it’s while they rest their heads upon each other, a scrambled mess tucked onto the beanbag chair.

At other times, I see my boys as men. When Bird glances at me sideways and snickers in jest at some silliness, I see him as a high schooler, rolling his eyes at my latest faux pas. When Deal perches on the couch with a toy catalog in hand, knees crossed, fist tucked beneath his chin, I see him as a contemplative adult. His gestures already too grown up for his three years.

Time is at once a thief and a jester. We want more of it, we want it to clip along at a faster pace, we want to switch it to slow motion, we want to hit the pause button, and sometimes we want to rewind. Yet Time controls us. We simply live to its ticking. It’s infinite and eternal beat.

And so, at night when I am restless, I slip out of the comfort of my quilt, kneel beside my sleeping boys, and watch them sleep. Inhale, exhale, twitch, rub, toss, flutter, turn, sigh. And I watch Time travel before my very eyes.

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Anonymous said...

That's beautifully written. I had a similar feeling about writing a few years back. I was halfway through writing a novel, and it was taking so long, I just wanted it to be finished. But then I realized that going through the process of writing and editing, and seeing the story take shape, I was witness to creation unfolding.

Sort of like watching time pass through your children as they grow. Sort of.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Dadshouse, writing a novel must be like giving birth and raising children all in one. The process must be taxing and invigorating. I am hoping to give it a hand too, non-fiction so there's no competition. ;-)

Anonymous said...

not gonna lie, that made me tear up at my desk.

mine are 16 and almost 20 and i still watch them sleep.

my son, with his chin stubble and budding 'stache still sleeps in the same position as his former toddler self.

and when my daughter is home from school i sneak into her room like a stalker and stair at the same face on that graceful young woman that used to be on her 5-year-old whirling dervish former self.

they will always be our babies! corny and i sound like my mom, but it is true.

Gretchen said...

I agree.. exquisitely written IE! With P checking his armpits every morning for a 'manhair' and slathering the deodorant on in hopes that it will magically jumpstart puberty, I do wish I taken more video of him when he was a babe. 6 scrapbooks, creative memories style and at least 12 video tapes loaded with the milestone moments just don't seem to be enough for my aging memory. Time travel.. I'd like for P to be 21 and skip the teenage years. Watching sleep is slowly becoming 'off limits.'